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Season of the Force Archives

July 23, 2016

A Trip to Disneyland in Summerrrrrrr

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Frozen - In Summer

Lee and I, along with our friends Matt and Kristin, spent a summer Saturday at Disneyland. Lee and I, of course, are frequent visitors, but Matt and Kristin are not, so we wanted to get in as many of the newer/favorite attractions as possible.

I was the only one who had seen the new Frozen - Live at the Hyperion show, and none of us had seen the new Soarin' Around the World, so those were both high on our list.

We arrived at the Mickey and Friends parking garage just a couple of minutes after 8:00 - I was surprised at how long the line was to get in. It took probably 15 minutes before we were finally parked. And then we had to wait for a parking lot tram. Usually they are one right after the other, but this time, even though they were loading two at a time, there was a 1-2 minute gap between when one left and another arrived to fill its place.

Though I wondered if that was intentional to keep the security lines down - they were relatively short. Only 10-12 people in each line. The bag checkers were being a lot more thorough, though, and that took extra time. And now everyone goes through the metal detectors - it's no longer random like it used to be. But that went pretty quickly.

With everything that's been going on in the United States and around the world recently, I was not surprised to see much more of a security presence this time. There were significantly more uniformed security personnel in the parks, Downtown Disney, and the Esplanade. And that doesn't count the plainclothes security that I know is also around.

We got Fastpasses for Frozen and Radiator Springs Racers, and then rode a number of other attractions standby. Midway Mania was about 20 minutes, but California Screamin' and Mater's Junkyard Jamboree were less than 10, and Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters was under 15 minutes. Matt and Kristin had been fans of the former Luigi's Flying Tires attraction, so were somewhat disappointed at the change, but thought the new ride was cute.

We went over to Disneyland to get a Fastpass for Hyperspace Mountain. It sounds like that will be going away soon, since Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy is returning for the Halloween season.

It was not a particularly busy day at Disneyland. I waited at Space Mountain for about 15 minutes while the others went to get coffee, because (surprisingly!) the Fastpass return time was still too early and overlapped with our Radiator Springs Racers Fastpass. The standby line for Hyperspace Mountain was only 45 minutes.

Weather-wise it was a very nice day - it might have gotten into the low 80s, but not warmer than that. For a July day it was really very pleasant, and cooler than usual.

We went back to DCA and got a Fastpass for Soarin' Around the World - the return time was only 50 minutes away! That surprised me.

It was not a very busy day in either park - certainly not what I would normally expect on a Saturday in the middle of summer. But maybe the new seasonal pricing scheme, where this day was a "Peak" day for one-day tickets, is starting to have an affect. It was also a blockout day for most annual passes - everything except Signature/Signature Plus and Premier. While things seemed busier than usual first thing in the morning, the crowds did not pick up appreciably throughout the morning like they usually do. Maybe if you're going to pay that much for a one-day ticket, you're going to be sure you arrive at park opening? The seasonal pricing does not apply to multi-day tickets (yet), and I saw lots of people using those.

We returned to use our Soarin' Around the World Fastpasses. I find it frustrating that Fastpasses for Soarin' never have worked as efficiently as they do for most other attractions. Even with a Fastpass we waited about 15 minutes.

I was wondering if the interior would be different, but it's not - you still walk through the California Aviators Wings of Fameexhibit. It seems odd that there's not a more international focus now.

Soarin' Around the World

The logo is slightly different.

Soarin' Around the World

I had already heard this, but I was happy to see that Patrick was still our flight attendant. :-)

Soarin' - Patrick your flight attendant

This was my first time to see the new movie in person (I had seen it on-line). I was disappointed. The scenery is beautiful, but I found the gratuitous use of CGI to be very distracting. Most of the scenes had added elements that obviously weren't really there. And we won't even talk about the Taj Mahal scene, which was entirely computer-generated. The locations they chose were beautiful, and could stand on their own - they didn't need any effects added to them.

Though speaking of effects...the "speed-up" effect that we experienced a couple of times was really well-done. I felt like I was moving a lot faster.

While I was underwhelmed, I will say that Lee really liked it, and says I spoiled it for him by pointing out all of the things that weren't real. Kristin said she preferred the original California version.

I liked the grass scent - though I'm not convinced that's really what the plains of Tanzania really smell like. :-) The ocean scent was similar to what we smelled in the original attraction. I did not detect the rosewater fragrance that was supposed to accompany the Taj Mahal scene. But I may have been too focused on how fake it looked. I really loved the Iguazu Falls scene - I think that was my favorite.

It was time to use our Radiator Springs Racers Fastpasses. Now this is how Fastpass SHOULD work - we were on the ride about 5 minutes after entering the queue. Afterwards I used a feature of my AP that I hadn't tried before - I took a cell phone photo of our attraction photo, then put that number into my AP Photopass account after we returned home, and was able to download our photo for free. Nice. (The free Photopass download is available with Signature, Signature Plus, and Premier APs.)

Radiator Springs Racers Photo

Apparently regular guests can purchase a single day Memory Maker package for $39, which includes all attraction photos as well as any other Photopass photos. That almost seems reasonable.

On Buena Vista Street, a number of the "Citizens of Buena Vista Street" were out and about. This was the first time that I'd seen both of the messengers, Molly and Millie, out at the same time. They are twins, and they squabble over which one gets to ride the bike. :-) Molly is on the left in the photo below.

Citizens of Buena Vista Street Molly and Millie

We'd ended up with several Fastpasses in a row, so we went back to Disneyland to ride Hyperspace Mountain. Unfortunately it was down. But the good news was that our Fastpasses would be valid any time for the rest of the day - assuming it came back up.

On our way to Hyperspace Mountain we'd stopped to get Fastpasses for Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. The return time was only 35 minutes away. So we went and got Dole Whips (Matt's request) while waiting. Even the Dole Whip line was not particularly long, and it moved quickly.

Dole Pineapple Juice sign

We defeated the Evil Emperor Zurg, and although we didn't quite make it to Galactic Hero status we had fun.

Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters

We had Fastpasses for the 4:00 performance of Frozen, but wanted to be in line about 3:15, so we went back to DCA to do what we like to call the Wine and Beer Ride. :-) Normally we would've gone to the Al Fresco Tasting Terrace but we really didn't have enough time for that, so we went to the Sonoma Terrace instead. They have a good selection of craft beers (though they are all in bottles - none on tap), and a few wines by the glass. The guys each had a beer, and Kristin and I both had glasses of the St. Hilaire sparkling wine. The cast member who poured the latter filled the glasses ALL the way to the top - we had to take a sip before we could carry it to a table! We also got one of the cheese plates to share.

Sonoma Terrace wine and cheese plate

The Sonoma Terrace is next to the Wine Country Trattoria on the Paradise Pier side. There's a nice large seating area there, and most of it is shaded. It's usually pretty quiet and it's a great place to sit and relax.

We enjoyed the opportunity to sit down for a while before we had to deal with all of the Frozen Frenzy. On our way to the Hyperion Theater we stopped at the 60th anniversary photo stop in "a bug's land". This one is a lot of fun, though the photographer didn't have the butterfly net prop for Matt to use. My AP is also my Photopass card, and again, free downloads!

Disneyland 60th Ant-iversary

But back to Frozen - Live at the Hyperion Theater. This was my first time experiencing it as a regular guest - I'd only see the media preview. The show started at 4:00. Our Fastpasses said to arrive between 3:00 and 3:40. (The Fastpass line closes 20 minutes before the show and those in the Standby line are allowed to fill any available seats.) We arrived at the Hyperion about 3:20. Each Fastpass specifies which section of the theater it is for: Orchestra, Mezzanine, or Balcony. We had Fastpasses for the Mezzanine. Those who had Fastpasses for the Orchestra section were already packed in like sardines (which used to be an export of Norway's - we toured an old cannery in Stavanger last year), and there were still people arriving. The Mezzanine section was filling up quickly, also. There was a huge line of people trying for standby in any section they could get into. I should mention that the 11:00 show had gotten canceled that day, so my guess is that many people who had Fastpasses for that show were now trying for standby.

We were admitted to the theater closer to 3:45 than 3:40. We were able to get seats in the third row center of the Mezzanine. The Mezzanine was always my favorite section for Aladdin, so I wanted to see how it was for this show. (I saw Frozen from Orchestra the first time, at the Media preview. I was in about the 6th row, which seemed like a fine choice at the time, but ended up being too close.)

Frozen Hyperion from Mezzanine

There's what I assume is a safety bar about 15" above the railing of the Mezzanine, and if you were in the first two rows it obscured your view of the stage somewhat. Even in row three it was in our view when the actors were towards the front of the stage.

Frozen - In Summer

There still seem to be some issues with this show. As I mentioned, the first show of the day was canceled, and our show had a technical issue of some kind less than 10 minutes from the end. Fortunately after a few minutes they were able to continue. I know it's a very complex show, but since it's been running for over six weeks I was surprised that there still seem to be so many problems.

Frozen Finale

I still really enjoyed the show. The viewing was much better overall from the Mezzanine than it was when I'd seen it from row 6'ish of Orchestra. There was a good view of Elsa on her ice staircase. Though I think the best seats might be the first couple of rows in the second tier of Orchestra (Loge?).

Frozen - Elsa on ice staircase

I thought the "Aurora Curtain" effect was much more pronounced from this seat location and I felt more immersed in Arendelle. There's one scene where Elsa is walking forward and a zoom effect on the projections at the back of the stage and on the curtains makes it look like she's really moving towards us much more quickly.

The acting and singing were still excellent. The Kristoff, Hans, and "Weaseltown" characters were played by the same actors that I saw before, but Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and the King and Queen were different. I thought this Anna/Elsa pair was better. The Olaf was just as good as the first - both of the actors I've seen were outstanding, and really captured the character.

Frozen - Anna and Elsa

Kristin and Lee both thought the show was very good. Matt had never see the movie, but still enjoyed the show. Though parts of it were a little confusing since there's a few plot points that were in the movie that are skipped in the show. If you haven't seen the movie, the climactic Elsa-Hans-Anna-Kristoff-on-the-ice scene is a "where are they and what's going on?" kind of thing.

Frozen Anna and Elsa

Disney is currently scheduling four shows a day - and that doesn't even come close to meeting the demand. Even with Fastpasses people are lining up as soon as possible to try to get good seats. That makes for a long wait even before the show starts. The $49 that Disney is charging for the pre-show experience and priority seats is looking more appealing to me all the time.

I was concerned about big crowds getting out of the theater but it wasn't too bad. We had a 5:30 priority seating for Cafe Orleans in Disneyland that I'd made in advance before I knew what Frozen show we'd be seeing. Once we had the Fastpasses I knew it would be a little tight, but I thought we'd be ok - but then we had the delay in the show. It was 5:15 before the show ended. We made it, but just barely. As it turned out the restaurant was still accepting walk-ups, so it wasn't really a problem. I'll have a separate blog with a review of our meal.

After dinner the Disneyland app showed us that Hyperspace Mountain was running again so we went over to use our Fastpasses. No problem, and we were on the attraction quickly. I was again able to use my AP Photopass feature to download our ride photos. Though unfortunately the CM seated us in two different cars, so we aren't all in the same picture.

Hyperspace Mountain

We had planned to head home after that, but the Disneyland All-American College Band was performing a set at the train station so we stopped to hear the rest of it. This is the first time we'd seen them this summer. They are always so talented, and a lot of fun to watch.

Disneyland All American College Band

We really had a very nice day! We were able to do all the attractions we really wanted to and we had a few opportunities to relax, also. I was pleasantly surprised that the parks were relatively uncrowded - that wasn't what I had expected that day.

I enjoyed the Frozen show as much the second time - I predict it's going to be around for a long, long time...it might even beat Aladdin's 13 year run at the Hyperion Theater.

Though I'm hoping the new Soarin' film is NOT around for 13 years...I was really disappointed in that.







November 23, 2015

Season of the Force - Food and Initial Impressions

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Season of the Force

Jeanine has already covered the Season of the Force offerings in her blogs:

Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain
Star Wars Launch Bay

But I wanted to offer some of my first-hand impressions. We were there before the official opening so not everything was open, but we were able to experience some of it.

Hyperspace Mountain

Hyperspace Mountain

I got in on a soft opening on this on Saturday morning. Wow...it was amazing!!!! The scenario is that we are pilots heading out into a space battle. The safety video features a hologram of Admiral Ackbar, which drew me into the Star Wars universe right away.

Hyperspace Mountain Admiral Ackbar

And then sitting in the ride vehicle all of that great John Williams music starts to play, and as we ascend the initial hill, it was obvious that we were preparing for light speed!

In addition to the music, there was all of the "pilot chatter" and sound effects of laser fire and explosions. Lots of projection screens inside gave us views of battling space craft, including an amazing visual of a TIE fighter diving right toward us.

It was absolutely exhilarating! When I was standing in the launch bay waiting to board I noticed that in EVERY returning car people were clapping and cheering - and I understand why. I can't wait to ride again - and I hope that this attraction will be around much longer than a "season!"

Season of the Force Hyperspace Mountain loading area

Path of the Jedi
Shown in the Tomorrowland Theater, this is a collection of clips from the six previous Star Wars movies and a few from the upcoming film that remind us of the way of the Force - both the light side and the dark side. Featuring all of our favorite Jedi and Dark Side characters. There's no spoilers, and nothing new, but we enjoyed it - and it's a nice place to sit down for a while.

Season of the Force Path of the Jedi

The Galactic Grill

Season of the Force Galactic Grill

This is the new name for the Tomorrowland Terrace restaurant. While still basically a burger place, the new menu feature Star Wars-inspired items for both breakfast and lunch/dinner. We didn't get a chance to try to the breakfast menu, but we had lunch there.

Lee tried the First Order Specialty Burger. The most striking thing about this one is that it's served on a dark bun. The patty is Angus beef and chorizo, topped with fired cherry peppers and spicy lime aioli. He said it had a bit of a kick, but not too bad.

Season of the Force First Order Burger

I tried the Jedi Order Chicken Sandwich. A five-spice chicken breast topped with breaded/fried green beans, pickled onions, watercress and wasabi mayonnaise. I thought it was really tasty, and particularly enjoyed the pickled onions. Between the chicken, the onions, and the green beans there was a lot of interesting texture. I didn't think it was very spicy at all - just a little bit.

Season of the Force Jedi Order Chicken Sandwich

We also tried the two specialty beverages. The Light Side is lemonade and Granny Smith apple. It has yogurt "meteors" and comes with a light-up Millennium Falcon. They had to give me a special (larger) straw big enough for the "meteors". I would say that those were tapioca pearls and not yogurt. I liked this a lot - it wasn't too sweet.

Season of the Force Light Side Lemonade

The Dark Side is lemonade with strawberry flavor, and includes a light-up Death Star. I thought it was a little too sweet. Both the Death Star and the Falcon can be of different colors or patterns - a switch on the bottom turns them off/on and they'll come up in a different mode each time.

Season of the Force Dark Side Lemonade

Both of these sandwiches had the option of being served in a souvenir Han Solo in Carbonite bucket for an additional $8.00.

Galactic Grill Han Solo in Carbonite Bucket

There's also a Chewbacca souvenir beverage container for $11.29.

Season of the Force Chewbacca Beverage container

There are several themed desserts - we tried the Darth by Chocolate dessert. It has layers of chocolate cake, red velvet cake and chocolate ganache, topped with a chocolate Darth Vader mask and red light saber. It was pretty good for a theme park dessert.

Galactic Grill Darth by Chocolate

The Kids menu offers a Jawa Turkey Sand-Wich on Bantha blue milk bread. It's a swirl of blue and white - I wonder how that will go over with kids. The breakfast menu offers French toast made with the same bread.

Galactic Grill Bantha Bread French Toast

Galactic Grill Breakfast Menu
Galactic Grill Lunch/Dinner Menu

Other Season of the Force specialty items:

Redd Rockett's Pizza Port offers a souvenir BB-8 beverage container for $13.29. I must admit to purchasing one of these.

Season of the Force BB-8 Beverage container

There's also a TIE fighter popcorn bucket for $19.50.

Season of the Force TIE Fighter popcorn bucket

I'm looking forward to experiencing the rest of Season of the Force - and I don't need to be a Jedi Master to predict that this is going to be extremely popular with guests!





November 19, 2015

Star Wars: Season of the Force

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We continue our look at Disneyland's new Star Wars celebration in Tomorrowland, with some of the new attraction additions and overlays.

[As always, any unattributed photos or videos are courtesy of Disney.]

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Over in the Tomorrowland (née Magic Eye) Theater, "Star Wars: Path of the Jedi" has taken over Captain EO's erstwhile home to showcase a visual primer of the Star Wars filmography. Loosely following the history of Luke Skywalker, it serves as an introduction or reminder of iconic images and concepts to prepare viewers for the upcoming film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

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Star Tours: The Adventure Continues
has received an update in the form of a new destination--the planet Jakku, from "The Force Awakens." Along with the new environs, passengers will get a glimpse at some new characters from the film (no spoilers, though,) and some new additional easter eggs hidden within the traditional locations. All speeders will visit Jakku, with the second destination randomized.

The biggest change up is in Space Mountain's transformation into Hyperspace Mountain. In this new adventure, a star destroyer off Jakku is the catalyst for a colossal firefight between Rebel X-wing Starfighters and Imperial TIE fighters.

Within the queue, the display screens have been updated to reflect your mission objectives.

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I personally thought this was a very fun reimagineering of this attraction. The new soundtrack, inspired by the classical John Williams score and recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra, really elevates the experience--much as it does with the movies themselves.


“Traveling through hyperspace ain't like dusting crops, farm boy.”

There's even more to come, as on December 8th, Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple will open up and replace the popular Jedi Training Academy. In this interactive experience, younglings will find out whether they can go the distance as a Jedi at a secret and ancient Jedi temple. These trials will require candidates to face not only their own spirit, but formidable villains such as Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister Inquisitor from "Star Wars Rebels."

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So quite a bit for the Star Wars fan to discover at "Season of the Force." Anyone looking to ramp up their excitement for "The Force Awakens" should check it out while it's here, because although there is no announced ending date, a season traditionally does not remain with you always, unlike The Force.

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November 17, 2015

Season of the Force: Star Wars Launch Bay

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This week, Disneyland debuted a brand-new celebration of all things Star Wars--Season of the Force.

[Unless otherwise attributed, all photos and videos courtesy of Disney.]

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Taking place in Tomorrowland, a Star Wars retheming has been given to several of the locations there, including the Carousel Theater...

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The Magic Eye Theater...

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And Space Mountain.

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In addition, Star Tours--The Adventures Continue has received a new adventure on the planet Jakku with some debuting characters from the upcoming film "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

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In today's installment, we'll look at the Launch Bay, which replaces Innoventions in the bottom floor of the now-stationary Carousel Theater, and which is the central hub of all the Star Wars activities.

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Right inside the entrance is the Launch Bay Theater, which is currently playing a great video featuring insight from a wide assortment of luminaries involved with Star Wars, such as J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, and Gareth Edwards. Also located around the lower level are themed galleries displaying replicas of props, costumes, and models from all reaches of the Star Wars universe.

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Over in the Light and Dark Side galleries, guest can peruse replicas of helmets and lightsabers utilized by famous heroes and villains of the Jedi and Sith.

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In the Preview Gallery, exhibits from "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" are on display, again with both Light and Dark sides represented.

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There is also a Starship Gallery, dedicated to iconic starships and their famed captains.

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Over in the Cantina, your typical wretched hive of scum and villainy, photo-ops abound with establishment-provided sabacc and holochess tables. Who knows which Star Wars characters may drop by to interact as well? Hopefully they'll take to you better than Dr. Evazan took to Luke.

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Throughout the Launch Bay, you'll note the pervasive use of Aurebesh--the writing system used to transcribe Basic, the most common language in Star Wars. (Another fun detail is revealed on a closer look at the area's Cast Members' name badges, and specifically at their city...or planet...of origin.)

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The Star Wars Game Center has systems set up for players to experience the latest Star Wars video games. Currently they are demoing the new Star Wars playsets from Disney Infinity 3.0, with some content and game codes available exclusively at this location.

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The heart of the Launch Bay experience is the live-action character interactions all around the building. First Order stormtroopers will be patrolling the outside of the area, while guests within may find themselves face to face with Boba Fett, Chewbacca, or the Dark Lord of the Sith himself.

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I have a bad feeling about this...

For those who want to take home mementos of their time in Launch Bay, merchandise of all price points is available at the Launch Bay Cargo.

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For the action figure collectors, vintage Star Wars actions figures were scanned and reproduced in 3-D for a new, less civilized age.

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Whether your tastes run towards a souvenir shirt...

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...Or something a bit more ostentatious, Disney has you covered.

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But of course, the Launch Bay is only a part of what Disneyland has in store for you in Seasons of the Force. More to come!


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About Season of the Force

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Salute to All Things Disney but Mostly Disneyland in the Season of the Force category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Mickey's Halloween Party is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.